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Moms Talk: Teacher/Coach Appreciation Gifts

What do you give? How much do you spend? Who do you buy for?

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, and with the last day of school inching closer, it’s time to think about end-of-year gifts for our kids’ teachers, coaches and instructors. 

There are certain state and local regulations that dictate basic monetary guidelines for us (you can see Wayland’s in Dr. Burton’s letter here) but outside of those, I’m always looking for thoughtful ways to show these wonderful people how much we appreciate them. 

Do I have the kids write a personal note? Do I write a personal note? How about making something homemade (baked or otherwise) for them? A gift card is always useful, but how to make that personal or meaningful? Does it matter? On the advice of friends who are teachers, I avoid candles, mugs and candy, but other than that, we’ll sometimes make a small token or drawing from the kids, and give a smallish gift card or gift certificate, along with a letter from both of us to let their teachers know how much we love them.

But now we also have coaches and instructors (dance, piano, etc.) who teach my children all year long. Not like when they were little and had a short, six-week swim session and didn’t see the teacher again for months — these people have spent significant time with my children, and are also loved. So what do I do for this whole new crop of teachers and instructors to thank them? The same as if they were a classroom teacher?

What are some of your favorite gifts/ideas to thank the “other” grown-ups in your kids’ lives with? And to any teachers out there (school or otherwise), what would YOU appreciate — or not appreciate — receiving, and what are some of your favorite gifts that you’ve been given by students?

We’d love to know! Share your opinions and ideas with us in the comments section, below. 

Stefanie Janoff May 05, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I also struggle with what to give or should we give beyond the classroom gift? I always participate in the class gift and feel that is the best way to honor a teacher. (Plus, I always feel bad for the room parent who sometimes has to take money out of their own pocket to cover incremental costs.) Regarding personal gifts, I try to keep it simple. There is nothing better than personal, handwritten note from the parent/child, an individual gift to the classroom or a donation to a school organization in their honor. As for a private teacher who are paid directly from you, shouldn't a personal note suffice? However, I do believe if a teacher has gone above and beyond with a child, then a personal USEFUL gift is the right thing. (Gift card to the Target, favorite coffee shop, or book store~I try not to overthink it.) As for coaches, they are volunteering their time... a team gift card is always great.
Jenny Harding May 06, 2011 at 06:14 PM
I think you are right on, Stephanie. From the teacher perspective, I always appreciate a gift card to anywhere and a personal note of appreciation. These are the most practical and the most heart felt. Although, some of my favorites over the years have been things I consider frivolous items that I wouldn't spend my small amount of teacher money on, but really want and like. For example, last year's favorite gifts were a bracelet from The Paper Company which I love to wear and a summer tray and bowl from Target which I used all summer long.
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) May 09, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Jenny, thanks for bringing a teacher's perspective in on this. I saw in Amy's article that mugs are out, and I had to laugh. My mother-in-law is a retired elementary teacher and her cabinets hold more mugs than the shelves at Starbucks. It's incredible! But, Jenny, you mentioned that a summer tray and bowl set was one of your favorite gifts, so it sounds like other serving ware is a possibility -- just avoid mugs. I think teachers appreciate the same types of thank you gifts that anyone appreciates. A small bouquet of flowers, a nice note, etc. I can also remember my parents seeking my thoughts (cautiously) when it came to what to give my teachers. Children know their teachers even better than parents do. Perhaps your child's teacher has mentioned a favorite flower, or decorates her desk with a particular collectible. These are things your child might be able to tell you about that could point you in the right direction in terms of a small gift.
Jenny Harding May 10, 2011 at 02:13 AM
The truth is that most teachers are very frugal and practical. If you give me a gift card I will most likely pass by the cute summer trendy (as I mentioned before) "frivilous" item for the more practical package of new Hanes underwear to replace the 20 year old holey ones. Therefore, I feel it is the best when given some of each, some practical gift cards and a little frivolity that other people see as seasonal necessities!
Joan Hardway May 31, 2013 at 12:30 AM
I personally hate all the gifting! If we could agree just to say THANK YOU and actually mean it - and help people instead of buying gifts, then we might ALL manage to stay out of debt rather than in debt because we're constantly trying to keep up with each other with all these gifts! I know there are parents who are spending hundreds of dollars per year to gift all the adults in their childrens's lives. This is getting ridiculous. What happening to giving your time because you wanted to go something to give back to the community? Just do it because you wanted to do something nice...and then when you're the recipient of the good deed SAY THANK YOU! Stuff shouldn't be required to show the thank you meant something.

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